North Dakota Nutrition Council


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Kids Can Be Top Chef!

The Crunchiest Sandwich in Town
The Crunchiest Sandwich in Town
Trisha Jessen, Ward/Renville NDSU Extension Agent / Family Nutrition Program

Trisha Jessen offered Kids Can Be Top Chef! at 4 school sites supported by the North Dakota Nutrition Council Mini Grants.  Each site had approximately fifteen 3rd - 5th grade students, resulting in about 7 teams per school.  I visited the youth once a week for a total of four times.  The lessons consisted of:  MyPlate, Safe Kids in the Kitchen, and Cooking Basics. Youth prepared a healthy snack at each visit.  Upon completion of the above three lessons, children were able to team up and participate in a Top Chef competition.  Kids Can Be Top Chef! allowed them to practice food preparation skills with nutrient rich foods.  Beginners often prepare recipes with very little nutritional content, such as cookies and cakes.  This program gave access to a variety of nutrient rich choices in a supervised environment.  School staff and I sampled and scored each creation based on taste, presentation, nutrition and creativity.

Each child received The Everything Kids’ Cookbook by Sandra Nissenberg.  This allows them to practice learned skills as well as reference cooking terms and equipment at home.  The two top scoring teams from each site also received measuring cups, measuring spoons, and rubber spatulas.

Each child was given a short survey before participating (Week 1) and after completion of the program (Week 4).  Upon completion of Kids Can Be Top Chef,

  • All youth were able to correctly identify pictures of kitchen equipment compared to only 81% on the pre-survey.
  • 86% of participants could identify the food that did not need refrigeration compared to 62%.
  • All youth understood cooking abbreviations compared to only 81% before the Top Chef program.
  • 86% of participants correctly answered the minimum amount of time needed to wash hands compared to 62%.
  • 73% of youth correctly answered how vitamin C helps our body compared to only 29%.
  • All participants recognized the food that does not belong in the dairy group compared to 90% on the pre-survey.

“I learned which foods to put in the fridge, to be careful when you cook, and don’t be junkfoodish be healthy!” ~ youth comment on post-survey

“My favorite was learning how to measure and read recipes.” ~ youth comment on post-survey

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